City Council handled a busy agenda involving bulkheads, a beach replenishment project and upgrades to the Music Pier. By Donald WittkowskiOcean City officials met Thursday with marina owners in the 300 block of Bay Avenue to devise plans to alleviate the perennial flooding that leaves the surrounding neighborhood and roads swamped with stormwater.First Ward Councilman Michael DeVlieger, who organized the informal strategy session, said local residents and the marina owners are united in wanting to see a continuous bulkhead built at Third Street to prevent bayfront flooding.“I think when you have two parties that want something, the odds of getting it done are greater,” DeVlieger said Thursday night while briefing members of City Council on the meeting.However, state environmental restrictions have hampered plans for the new bulkheading so far. Councilman Keith Hartzell, who joined DeVlieger and City Business Administrator Jim Mallon at the meeting with four marina owners, said the regulations are so strict that they would literally require owners to run the new bulkhead “through their house.”“It seems kooky,” Hartzell said.Hartzell acknowledged that it will be a “long haul” to secure regulatory approvals to build the proposed bulkheading.“I think the goal right now is to get everyone on the same page, and I think that’s coming,” he said.DeVlieger echoed Hartzell’s comments by noting that “enthusiasm” is building among the marina owners and local homeowners for the bulkheading plan.“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.Currently, not all of the property owners have bulkheads. In other cases, the existing bulkheads are deteriorated. Without a continuous bulkhead running along the bay at Third Street, the floodwaters continue to flow into the neighborhood.Michael Baker International, a city environmental and engineering consultant, will study options to ease the flooding, including the possibility of building new bulkheads.DeVlieger, whose ward includes the Third Street neighborhood and adjacent marinas, estimated that new bulkheading would solve 90 percent of the problem. He said the bulkheads would complement the city’s plan to build a series of pumping stations in the north end to flush stormwater off the streets faster.The new bulkheading would also help to protect the marinas. DeVlieger and Hartzell said the marinas are a key part of Ocean City’s business community and should be helped before they disappear altogether.“There are only a handful left and we want them to stay in business. They’re part of Ocean City’s culture,” DeVlieger said in an interview after the Council meeting.In other business, Council members Peter Madden and Tony Wilson were unanimously reappointed president and vice president, respectively, of the governing body for the next 12 months. It will be the second straight year Madden and Wilson have held those posts.Tony Wilson, left, and Peter Madden were reappointed as City Council’s vice president and president, respectively.Also Thursday, Council approved a resolution that is a first step toward getting the city’s north end beaches replenished with new sand this fall, months before the project was supposed to get underway.The resolution grants the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers access over the city’s right-of-way to begin the project, Mallon explained.Ocean City is now on a regular three-year cycle for beach replenishment projects funded by the Army Corps of Engineers. Although the city hadn’t been scheduled for its next round of beach replenishment until 2018, the plans have been accelerated to begin the north end project by the fall and have it completed by next March.“We’ll definitely have a north end beach replenishment sometime this fall,” Mallon told Council.In another matter Thursday, Council awarded a contract for large video screens that will enhance the experience for concertgoers at Ocean City’s Music Pier.The project will be paid for by a $151,000 donation from the fund-raising arm of the Ocean City Pops, the hometown orchestra. Jon Batastini, chairman of the Friends of the Ocean City Pops, announced the donation on June 8.Starlite Productions International Inc. of Moorestown will install video screens and cameras at the Music Pier under a $151,961 contract. Batastini said he hopes the project will be completed in time for the Pops’ “A Night in Old Vienna” concert on Sept. 13.Two, 120-inch video screens are planned on the walls on both sides of the Music Pier’s stage, which will allow orchestra fans to enjoy the concerts in an entirely new way. The large-screen format will capture the action on stage much better, right up to the facial expressions of the performers, Batastini said.“The people sitting in the back of the audience will be able to appreciate the passion that the entertainers put into their performances because now they’ll be able to see it,” he said.Batastini noted that the screens will also allow the Pops to incorporate movie clips with the concerts to complement the music, giving the audience an even livelier and fuller experience.Concertgoers will be able to enjoy closer views of the Ocean City Pops after new big-screen technology is installed in the Music Pier. (Courtesy Ocean City Pops)In addition, two, 90-inch video screens will be located at the back of the Music Pier to give concertgoers sitting in the “cheap seats” a better view of the orchestra.The video technology complements the city’s efforts to elevate the Music Pier’s status in the entertainment industry. The city has made a push to bring high-profile acts to the Boardwalk concert hall to bolster the summer entertainment scene.In other business, Council recognized the late Maryellen Farrell for her contributions to the community, including her avid support of the Humane Society of Ocean City. Farrell, 68, died June 20 of leukemia.“She made a difference in our town,” Hartzell said, while calling Farrell an “incredible woman.”Farrell was named 2016 Volunteer of the Year by the Humane Society. She was often seen walking the dogs at the animal shelter. Her husband, Gene, and volunteers from the Humane Society attended the Council meeting as part of the ceremony honoring Farrell.“She not only loved the dogs, she loved the dog walkers,” Gene Farrell said.After thanking Council for honoring his wife, Farrell closed his remarks by calling Maryellen a “great lady” who made him “a lucky guy.”Gene Farrell, center, in green shirt, joins members of City Council as they honor his late wife, Maryellen Farrell, for her contributions to the community.